I've had quite the tumultuous relationship with Nutella. Since discovering I was highly allergic to tree nuts back in high school, I have been careful—and lucky—to avoid most incidents. While almonds are perfectly fine for me to eat (thank goodness), other tree nuts have been labeled with a big "Do Not Eat" sticker. My diagnosis has never bothered me too much and I rarely feel as if I am missing out. It wasn't until I moved to England when studying abroad that I experienced my first pang of tree nut jealousy.
When my friends all discovered Nutella for the first time, it quickly became a forbidden fruit in my eyes.
In the cool English winter, many an evening was spent around the kitchen stove, laughing and joking, as a jar of Nutella was passed from spoon to spoon. I would often stand off to the side with a glass of water, alternating between great interest and wariness at the jar in their hands. Eventually, my curiosity took over and I could no longer stand in the sidelines. As the jar of Nutella was ritually passed around the circle, this time I made certain it would make a stop at me. When I found the jar in my hands for the first time (and several concerned faces pointed my direction), I cradled the container in my hands, lifted it towards my nose, and breathed in the wonderful scent.
My friends would later affectionately refer to this regular practice as "huffing Nutella." My rationale was that if I couldn't eat it, at the very least I should be able to smell it.
It wasn't until I had an accidental encounter with Nutella (in which I unknowingly ate a slice of cake enclosed in a layer of it) and nothing bad happened that my curiosity for it was taken to another level. I knew I was seriously allergic to tree nuts, but if almonds could be an exception to the rule, was it possible for hazelnuts to do the same? It was several years later before I found myself and a jar of Nutella in the same room and I could give my theory a test. Though I do not recommend taking the risk I did to anyone for any reason, my experiment had a happy conclusion. Though I still rarely buy or steal a spoonful of Nutella from the jar just in case, a sale sign at the grocery started a chain of events that led to this swirled banana bread.
Though it has taken a long time to reach this point, I think you'll agree that it was worth the wait.
Nutella Swirled Banana Bread is the culmination of five years of daydreaming about Nutella while baking. A basic banana bread recipe is elevated by dark swirls of Nutella. Instead of being folded in the batter, the Nutella is melted and drizzled directly through the batter which lends pockets of gooey Nutella in the final product. Despite the large Nutella swirls, the bread rises and holds together well; the secret inside is only revealed when the first slice is cut.
Nutella Swirled Banana Bread
Yield 9 x 5-inch loaf
1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) butter
3/4 cup (150 grams) brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1/2 cup (150 grams) nutella
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Grease a loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well between additions. Beat in the vanilla extract and mashed bananas until fully incorporated. Mix in the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the milk. Set aside.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, place the Nutella and heat for 15 seconds until lightly warmed and melted. Be careful, though; if the Nutella gets too warm it will seize up into a solid so less time in the microwave is better.
In the loaf pan, transfer 1/3 of the bread batter. Drizzle 1/3 of Nutella over the top and, using a butter knife, lightly swirl into the batter. Complete this step two more times, creating three layers. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool loaf in pan for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.